CARTA's New Board Told Ridership Is Up, Service Upgrades Planned

  • Thursday, March 16, 2023
  • Hannah Campbell

Officials at the Chattanooga Area Regional Transportation Authority report that year-over-year ridership continues to rise after the pandemic, especially that of the downtown shuttle and the Incline.

“They’re all trending in the right direction, which is always great to see,” said Executive Director Lisa Maragnano.

February financial reports show some surpluses due to unpaid salaries for vacant positions that were held through the pandemic, but CARTA Chief Operating Officer Jeff Smith said CARTA is in a good spot for its existing routes, and he won’t fill more positions until the new direction of CARTA is made clear.

CARTA’s 11-member board of directors saw nine new appointments in January by Mayor Tim Kelly. Various board members requested to discuss long-term fare collection and technologies next month, as well as CARTA’s fleet composition and a breakdown of routes and maintenance for those vehicles.

The new board has elected Johan De Nysschen as chairman and Patricia McKoy as treasurer. It plans to elect the remaining officers at its April meeting.

Mr. Smith told the board that CARTA staffing is on schedule to meet demand in Chattanooga’s peak tourism season, which Ms. Maragnano said begins in May, and meet its goal of a seven- or eight-minute wait time.

In May, CARTA will add the use of four UTC Mocs Express shuttles to its existing six downtown. A few new employees will be fully certified by May, giving CARTA’s “extra board” a comfortable 11 drivers to fill in for retirements, resignations, or illness.

In May CARTA will also begin longer hours of service, and it will increase the Eastgate-Hamilton Place route service to every 20 minutes.

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